Evaluating Volatile Organic Compounds for Contact-Independent Antagonism of Pseudogymnoascus destructans and Assessing the Impact of Fungal Pigmentation on Antifungal Susceptibility
Date of Award
Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
White-nose syndrome (WNS), caused by the psychrophilic fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has been implicated in the massive decline of hibernating bat populations across North America and has led to the listing of impacted species under the US endangered Species Act. Due to the importance of bats to biodiversity and their ecosystem services in agricultural systems, researchers, in conjunction with wildlife management agencies, have been actively exploring disease control methods to mitigate the impact of WNS on susceptible bat species. The accessibility and ecology of bat hibernacula pose unique complications for application of disease management approaches, contributing to the need for improved application methods of disease treatments. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have recently been proposed as a control option for many pathogenic fungi because of their strong antifungal activities documented in the literature. Many of these VOCs are ubiquitously found in nature, suggesting their safe use in wildlife disease management. This research aimed to evaluate the inhibitory activities of a select list of VOCs against P. destructans mycelial growth and conidia germination for their potential application in WNS management. This research also assessed the ability of melanin, an established virulence factor produced by many pathogenic fungi, to impact the susceptibility of P. destructans to antifungals. This data emphasizes the role of melanin in virulence, a commonly overlooked factor in the development of WNS control methods, and proposes a new WNS management approach for further investigation and potential field application.
Available for download on Wednesday, August 16, 2023